The city of Washington and the Chamber of Commerce are working with the Missouri State Department of Economic Development to help the state provide assistance during the coronavirus crisis.

Chamber CFO Jennifer Giesike said state officials have asked them to provide local businesses with information on how to access resources from the Department of Labor and the Department of Health. The Chamber last week emailed a brochure to its members with information about temporary or permanent layoffs because of the fallout from COVID-19.

“We recommend making contact with the Department of Labor before any layoffs are announced to exhaust all options,” Giesike said.

The electronic brochure provides links to a variety of resources, including the CDC, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces.

Additionally, links for disaster assistance also are listed, including the SBA Loan Program and unemployment resources.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will be offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

According to information provided, an electronic mass claims filing system is designed to assist employers and their employees during a temporary mass layoff.

Employee information provided by the employer allows the Division of Employment Security to file an initial or renewed unemployment claim on behalf of employees quickly and efficiently.

As part of the mass claims filing, a recall date is entered for temporary layoffs, not to exceed eight weeks from the last day worked.

The Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program is an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a reduction in available work. It allows an employer to divide the available work among a specified group of affected employees instead of a layoff. 

These employees receive a portion of their unemployment benefits while working reduced hours.

Survey

The Chamber also asked members to complete a brief survey created by the state to help gauge the impact the crisis is having on existing businesses.

“The data provided from this survey is critical in how the state will analyze business needs and determine how to provide emergency support,” Giesike said.

The survey asks businesses, as a result of COVID-19, if they are seeing significant disruptions in any of the following —  revenue, employee productivity, supply chain, access to capital or any other operational areas.

Other questions include are employees working from home, and if not, do you have a plan for them to do so? Are you planning a temporary or permanent reduction in workforce? Do you anticipate any changes to your business due to market fluctuations?

The survey also asks if there any federal or state regulations or laws that are causing immediate problems for their business.